Chris Evert’s open letter to Serena

Chris Evert’s open letter to Serena in the May issue of Tennis Magazine:

Dear Serena,

I’ve been thinking about your career, and something is troubling me. I appreciate that becoming a well-rounded person is important to you, as you’ve made that desire very clear. Still, a question lingers—do you ever consider your place in history? Is it something you care about? In the short term you may be happy with the various things going on in your life, but I wonder whether 20 years from now you might reflect on your career and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis. Because whether you want to admit it or not, these distractions are tarnishing your legacy.

Just a couple of years ago, when you were fully committed to the game, you showed the athleticism, shot-making, and competitive desire to become the greatest player ever. Many besides myself shared the same sentiment. You won five of the six Grand Slams you entered over the 2002 and 2003 seasons and looked utterly dominant in the process. Then you got sidetracked with injuries, pet projects, and indifference and have won only one major in the last seven you’ve played. I find those results hard to fathom. You’re simply too good not to be winning two Grand Slam titles a year. You’re still only 24, well within your prime. These are crucial years that you’ll never get back. Why not dedicate yourself entirely for the next five years and see what you can achieve?

Perhaps the reason I feel so strongly about this is because I wasn’t blessed with the physical gifts you possess. I know that the lifespan of an athlete’s greatness is brief and should be exploited. Once you get to No. 1 in the world and start winning major titles, you should see how far you can take it. You’ve become very good at many things, but how many people would trade that to be great at just one thing? I don’t see how acting and designing clothes can compare with the pride of being the best tennis player in the world. Your other accomplishments just can’t measure up to what you can do with a racquet in your hand.

Ironically, I believe that if you fulfill your potential on the tennis court, all your other endeavors will become that much easier to pursue. You could become the most famous athlete in the world. Every magazine will want you on its cover and any door you wish to walk through will be wide open. When I was playing, I always knew there would be time to get married, have children, do TV commentating, and even coach if I wanted. I assure you there will be time for you to chase all your dreams once you’re through with tennis.

I offer this only as advice, not criticism, from someone with experience. If you’re completely happy with the way your life is, then crumple up this letter and throw it away. I wish you nothing but luck and success in all your pursuits. Just remember that you have in front of you an opportunity of the rarest kind—to become the greatest ever at something.

I hope you make the most of it.


  1. Herbert Hunter, Jr. said

    I am old enough to remember Chris, Martina, Steffi Graf (my favorite), etc. I love Chris’s letter and the intent. My two questions:
    1) Did she actually send a letter Serena could frame as a keepsake or was it just in the magazine
    2) Did Serena acknowledge


  2. NAzmin said

    this open letter does not deserve a response

  3. Anna said

    Take her advise …crumble this up and throw it in the trash..Serena has already become a part of history….her desire for marriage and family should be on her choice when …no one else’s …%..Y an open this sincere or a chance to catch fadeing lime light…the whole world already knows the name SERENA WILLIAMS….and the only magazine covers that r RACIST are the only ones that won’t have her….

  4. MY TERMS said

    It has and still is obvious that Serena is not well liked by the commentators and it bothers them even more that Serena does not respond to their criticism. Who does Chris Everet think she is to call someone out? How many champions has she built at the Everet Academy?

    One cannot dictate someone else’s life here in America it just doesn’t work like that. If Chris Everet really wanted to “so to speak” help Serena she would silence some of the critics in the commentator’s booth during Serena’s matches.

  5. Mykal Gary Riley said

    Beautifully done. Did you notice that the letter was written in 2006 ie ten years ago? It may have irked Serena at the time but in the period since the letter was written she has gone on to do exactly what Evert was suggesting at the time – maximise her potential and chase true greatness. If you follow tennis you’ll know that Evert and Navratilova presented her with her 18th slam equalling their respective slam records. Now Williams is chasing her 22nd, I Think it worked out well for everyone.

    • admin said

      Yes indeed; except the US Open 2015 -:( … I cried my heart out for her.

  6. […] No! No! A thousand times no. No apology required whatsoever. Go back and read the letter and look where Serena was and now what unfolded since. Chris—sorry, I can’t bring myself to do […]

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